Leatt STX: a neck brace for the road

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While the original Leatt brace can sometimes work with leathers and on the road, it wasn’t designed to do so, limiting the head’s articulation in a forward-leaning riding position and interfering with the use of back protectors. Now, Leatt’s designed a brace to get around those problems. Ditching the center back support and sitting lower on the shoulders, the Leatt STX is specifically designed to reduce the risk of spinal compression for road riders while accommodating a racing tuck, back protectors and aerodynamic humps and facilitating the full range of head movements for good vision. This could represent the greatest leap forward in road safety gear since Dainese invented the back protector in 1978.

The concept behind the Leatt brace is relatively simple. In order to prevent your head being pushed down between your shoulders and compressing your spine, a platform sits across your shoulders, contacting the base of the helmet in severe, head-on impacts and spreading the load path across the shoulders, which are better able to cope with the forces. Like the styrofoam in a helmet or the crumple zone on a car, the Leatt and similar braces now offered by companies like Alpinestars are designed to deform and break, reducing the forces transmitted to your body.

HFL contributor Sean Smith, who sent us this tip, summed up nicely why we haven’t seen such a device for road use before. Road protection, like that back protector (co-developed by Barry Sheene), evolves from road racing. In the controlled environment of a race track, head-on impacts to the helmet are extremely rare, unheard of even. Instead, riders almost always suffer glancing impacts to the head, which are effectively dealt with by the shape and materials of modern helmets. Unfortunately, while road riders can benefit from general abrasion and impact protection developed on the track, the roads we ride on are a more complicated environment, requiring a more sophisticated approach to safety. The Leatt STX represents one of the first dramatic improvements to safety that wasn’t developed for GP riders.

You can see why Leatt’s dirt brace wouldn’t work terribly well on a sporstbike. Tucked in, your torso is leaning forward and your head is leaning back. The dirt brace would interfere with this movement, limiting head articulation and therefore vision and the ability to comfortably move around the bike while riding fast.

You can see the difference between the dirt and street braces in the split rear support adopted by the STX. Leatt claims this will clear just about every back protector and speed hump, meaning this is a one-size fits all, near-universal application.

According to Sport Rider, Alpinestars actually had a similar brace in development, but it’s track testing program didn’t highlight the need for such a device. Anyone who’s headbutted a car or a tree or any other immovable object can likely see the benefit though.

Leatt says the STX is made from “a reinforced polyamide resin,” folds for easy adjustment, adjusts for fit without any tools and even incorporates a security loop to lock it to a bike while parked.

The STX will be available in April for an MSRP of $450, but our friends at RevZilla are already accepting pre-orders for just $395.

Dainese D-Air and Alpinestars TechAir will offer similar protection against spine compression (as well as added impact protection this device doesn’t offer) when they arrive on the market later this year, but compare their multi-thousand dollar prices and complication to the relative affordability and simplicity of this brace. Leatt is bringing protection to an area of street riders’ bodies which previously went unprotected and doing so at a relatively affordable price. That’s big news.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld

    This MAY save a few squids from their head-on-collisions at city traffic intersections.

  • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

    “just about every back protector” not including any back protector that has shoulder blades protection like this one:
    (wich is the one i own unfortunatly)

    Good news for everyone else i guess.

    • Barry

      Dainese has a love affair with those shoulder pads. Even in their own suits, it’s superfluous, since their suits(at least the ones _I’ve_ had) already include the armor. When I upgraded to a back protector with chest plates three years ago, my Dainese came with these HUGE pads over the shoulders, that interfered with the original suit armor AND made it nearly impossible to get the suit on. I spent 30 minutes with a knife and unstitched them from the material. WAY better.

  • Barry

    You can’t get squids to wear HELMETS, much less neck braces. Maybe this is the new must-have accessory for riding down the highway with your helmet on the hook on one side, and this on the other side? I do like the option for the track though. But, like they say, it IS unusual to pile drive in the necessary manner on the track. Given my history, I need something for the front and back of my head… oh right, a helmet :) Hmmm, I do want to try one on and see if it’s one additional layer of safety in trade for money without costing me in flexibility. Something tells me a D-Air is more what I want though.

    • seanslides

      Let Icon worry about how to get squids to wear gear. This isn’t really intended for them.

      I know that when this thing hits the market though, I’m gonna figure out a way to get my hands on one, and then I’m gonna wear the shit out of it.

  • David

    I just ordered two off-road versions last week–one for me, one for my son. It’s nice that the roadies now have a version available.

  • Ducky

    Apparently, for street riders, the most common “serious” injury for motorcyclists (barring death) is paralysis. This either happens because of impacts to the spinal column (mostly solved with good back armour though if you wrap yourself around something it still won’t save you), or compression/hyperflexion of the neck… which is why I’ve always wondered why so few companies have ever seriously considered a comfortable to wear neck brace for street riders.

    I was looking into these last year, but they didn’t really have any street versions (nevermind the back hump, they’re just fairly uncomfortable with most jackets). Once these hit the market I’ll take another look, they definitely look more promising.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

    Finally, I can tell the ATGATT crowd that they’re full of crap until they cough up another $400. Time to simulate the economy!